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Tigard nonprofit offers free pot

Tigard-based Human Collective is offering free 'medicine' to medical marijuana card holders through August
by: Jeff Basinger, Sarah Bennett, founder and director of Human Collective, examines a bud of OG Kush, a strain of marijuana.

Medical marijuana patients in short supply of their medicinal Mary Jane can now turn to a Tigard company to get the medicine they need.

Human Collective, a nonprofit medical marijuana clinic on Pacific Highway in Tigard, is offering free medical marijuana to cardholders, as a way to keep people from turning to the black market.

'There are a lot of patients who have a lag time between the time that they register with the state and the time that their grower can produce their medicine,' said Sarah Bennett, founder and director of Human Collective. 'They have needs that are immediate. You can go and get your Advil or your aspirin or your other prescription drugs in a timely manner because you're in pain and you're suffering, and that's what we try to offer here.'

For new cardholders it can be anywhere from three to six months before they are able to grow their own medicine or find a grower able to grow for them, Bennett said.

'Or say you're between grows or there's a crop failure. All those various reasons are why we created the free program,' Bennett said.

A membership-based organization, Human Collective offers members access to classes, massages and other services, as well an organized system for the legal transfer of marijuana between cardholders.

In Oregon, marijuana dispensaries are illegal, meaning that Human Collective can't charge anything for their weed. But growers can be reimbursed for the costs of production - electricity, supplies, etc., which memberships help pay for.

But Human Collective's free program allows patients in need to receive small amounts of the drug without paying for the cost of production.

'There are a lot of growers who have excess medicine,' Bennett said. 'They don't necessarily need the reimbursements.'

Not having access to their medicine puts a strain on suffering cardholders who need access immediately and often turn to the black market in order to relieve their suffering, Bennett said.

The same works with growers, who by law are only allowed to have a certain amount of marijuana per patient. Any excess has to be disposed of, often going to the street dealers, Bennett said.

Human Collective works to alleviate that.

'Calling it free marijuana is not really the best way to describe what that program is,' said Drew, a volunteer with the collective who asked not to have his last name printed. 'If you're ill and you don't have anything, you can come and receive medicine. But all of our meds are free. That's why we came up with different programs so everybody has an option regardless of their financial situation, and regardless of the need - whether they need a small amount of cannabis or a large amount.'

Drew said that response to Human Collective, and its free program, has been overwhelming.

'We see about 100 people day,' Drew said. 'People have just been ecstatic. Some people cry. If you spend a day in here you really be surprised. These are people who are in pain all day long. It's a reward to work here, honestly. To see people come in and be able to stop taking large amounts of pills, to finally be able to sleep? It's incredible, it really is. It's amazing to be able to help people do that so easily, just by growing a plant.'

The free program runs through August.

Human Collective is located at 11509 S.W. Pacific Highway.